The owners of a Shetland pony who died after being shot with an airgun have expressed concern about the inadequacy of current laws covering airgun use.
The devastated owners, Mark and Elaine Newcombe, told a local newspaper that they believe airguns should be banned, in order to prevent further injuries to people and animals.
The two-year-old piebald Shetland, called “27”, sustained fatal injuries after being shot in the stomach with an airgun on Friday 19 September. He was hit while grazing in his field at Castle Hill Farm, Hull between 8am and 8.10pm.
The following day a second pony, “Cowgirl”, was shot on the same farm, although her injuries were not life threatening. Her owner has also called for a change in current airgun legislation.
Airguns do not currently require a license if they are under the UK legal limit (rifles – 12ft.lbs muzzle energy, pistols – 6st.lbs) although there are some legal requirements limiting their usage.
Children under 14 years may not buy or own an airgun or ammunition, although they may use one if supervised by an adult, while children between 14 and 17 years may be given or lent airgun/ammunition but may not buy or hire one. The law also states it is illegal for anyone to kill or injure any animal or bird protected by law unless authorised to do so.
The Home Office has made an effort to combat some of the problems regarding airgun misuse by including three proposals in the Antisocial Behaviour Bill currently in Committee Stage in the House of Lords.
“The Bill will make it an offence to have an airgun in a public place without a reasonable excuse,” explains a Home Office spokesperson. “It will also increase the minimum age for unsupervised airgun use from 14 to 17 years. In addition, there are proposals to ban a particular type of airgun that is being converted to fire live ammunition, thereby abusing its purpose as an airgun.”